January 16, 2020
First elected in 1926, Senator Margie Neal stood alone as the only woman in the Texas Senate throughout her two terms in office. It’s clear Senator Neal had to endure a lot of mansplaining, including from a reporter who once described her as being overwhelmed by “parliamentary complexities.”
The very next day, Senator Neal set him straight with a powerful speech from the Senate floor.
“The manner in which she spoke drew the spontaneous applause of fellow senators, and possibly went far toward making her acceptance by the Senate a reality,” according to her biographer.
Four decades later, Barbara Jordan became the first African-American woman in the Texas Senate as well as the first African–American state senator in the U.S. since 1883. Her portrait watches over my desk in the Senate Chamber. We consult often.
Her speech to the 1976 Democratic National Convention still resonates all these years later:
“We are a people in a quandary about the present. We are a people in search of our future…We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.”
This is going to a very big year as we mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
I’m really excited about a Downtown Austin Alliance Foundation project launching in March that will center around female empowerment and the 19th Amendment. It’s going to highlight international and local artists working in this space, and I expect it will have a lasting impact on our community. Stay tuned!
If you’d like to be involved in creatively recognizing the passage of the 19th Amendment and this celebration of women, just let me know and I can connect you with the folks leading the effort.
And on Saturday, we’re gathering for the rights of all women. I hope you’ll join us at the Texas Capitol to get charged up for one of the most important elections of our lifetime. As Aurora Alter, the youngest member of the Team Watson family, reminds us — a woman’s place is in the revolution.